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Special Education

Harford County Public Schools – Department of Special Education believes that individuals with disabilities achieve their full potential in a comprehensive and coordinated birth to 21 system of services emphasizing high expectations for all.


Harford County Public Schools – Department of Special Education provides leadership, supports, and accountability for results to all stakeholders by way of a seamless, comprehensive system of coordinated services to children, students and youth with disabilities, birth to 21, and their families.

Special Education at a Glance

Special Education in Harford County Public Schools is a collaborative effort involving schools, families and community agencies working together to ensure a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to all children with disabilities, birth through age 21. Special education is defined as specially designed instruction, provided at no cost to parents, in order to meet the unique needs of a child with an educational or developmental disability. Services are provided in the least restrictive environment (LRE), to the maximum extent possible.

A Child with a Disability or Student with a Disability means a child, birth to age 21, evaluated in accordance with IDEA or COMAR having any of the following disabilities, causing an adverse effect on the child’s educational performance resulting in the need of special education and related services:

  • Autism
  • Deaf-blindness
  • Developmental Delay
  • Emotional Disability
  • Hearing Impairment
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Multiple Disabilities
  • Orthopedic Impairment
  • Other Health Impairment
  • Specific Learning Disability
  • Speech or Language Impairment
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Visual Impairment (including Blindness)

Special education services are available in all Harford County Public Schools and across a range of learning environments.The district’s processes and procedures for disability determination, placement and service delivery align with federal and State regulations. Harford County Public Schools utilizes the Statewide IEP Process Guide as the framework for student educational planning and compliance with the Requirements of the 2004 Reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Ages 3 through 21

Harford County Public Schools uses a team process to determine whether a child is a student with a disability requiring specialized instructional supports and services. Parents are valued and essential members of this collaborative team. The Individual Education Program (IEP) Team determines eligibility of a child for special education and related services by means of a comprehensive evaluation process, which includes a range of data sources including, as appropriate: academic or developmental performance; communication; general intelligence; health, including hearing and vision; motor abilities; and social, emotional or behavioral status. If a child is determined to have an educational disability requiring special education services, an IEP is developed by the school staff with input from the parents. The IEP identifies the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, measurable annual goals and short term benchmarks, a statement of special education and related services necessary to implement the IEP.

Harford County Public Schools advocates for a continuum of special education services and placement considerations ranging from indirect services through residential services. Service delivery and placement options are based upon the needs identified in the IEP and are a result of the IEP Team decision-making process. Understanding Evaluation, Eligibility, and IEP Process (PDF)